Dr David Malkin

Clinical Psychologist Perth | Counsellor Perth

Tel: 0409 227 548

Checking Assumptions

One of Sylvia Plath's devastatingly imagetic poems is called 'Mussel Hunter at Rock Harbor'.Part of it goes...'Grass put forth claws,Small mud knobs,nudged from under,Displaced their domes as tiny Knights might doff their casques.The crabs.....(omitted material)....sidled out in a converging stream.....(omitted material)....Could they feel mud Pleasurable under claws As I could between bare toes?That question ended it--I stood shut out,for once,for all,Puzzling the passage of their Absolutely alien Order........(omitted material)...

Plath could only assume the experience of the crabs.Similarly,most of us tend to assume the experience of other people even though they are NOT crabs.So many arguments and hard attitudes come about because of the lack of checking assumptions.No matter how obvious it is to you,it is worth the question to check whether the other person has the motivation that you think they have.So often it is not so and all that has happened is that our favourite prejudice has kicked in.

In almost every setting, checking your assumptions is likely to provide an alternative explanation,not related to rejecting you,as to why someone is doing something or seems fed up.If it is related to you then the possibility of clarifying and problem solving can allow resolution.

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Prejudice

In 1962 Tom Kuhn published 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions'.This set the world of Sociology Of Science alight as the book discussed how scientific 'truth' was actually constructed through paradigm (model) shifts which sometimes were completely different from what had gone before.In short,because the model 'worked' didn't mean it was objectively true for all times and circumstances.Importantly,because the paradigms were discontinuous,and not built one upon the other,there was no way of saying there was a movement towards 'objective truth'.Previously Karl Popper, in his 'Conjectures and Refutations',had asserted that Science moves towards 'truth' by progressively testing hypotheses,refuting them,and moving closer,thereby to a more objectively 'truthful' hypothesis.

More latterly,Ken Wilber has written extensively about different levels or domains of 'truth'.He talks of the 'eye of the senses' which tries to know the material world,the 'eye of the mind' which tries to know the mental internal world,and the 'eye of spirit' which tries to know the contemplative spiritual world.Each of these worlds have 'truths' which a particularly informed and experienced community of practitioners dialogue about to establish.Post-modernism also asserts opinions rather than objective 'truths'.

In view of all of this,there is,perhaps,room for a little doubt regarding our favourite prejudices about how the world at large functions.If Science can not be certain of its 'truths',the meaning we put on our experiences leaves room for healthy scepticism.We tend to look through the same telescope and see different words written across the lens.It is prudent,therefore, to be circumspect and prepared to allow examination of differing opinions.Sometimes beliefs seem to be set in concrete regarding the deficiencies of ourselves or others.People can avoid activities which may be beneficial to them because of a limiting belief or prejudice.In Transactional Analysis there is a saying that it can be good to 'fake it until you make it'.This means suspending disbelief that you can do it.The feeling of confidence may not be there at the beginning but it can grow as you allow yourself  to be exposed to growful healthy activities.Realising your likely prejudices is a really useful first step to confronting them.If you are fearful,doing some simultaneous self re-parenting, as discussed in an earlier blog,may be useful.

If you are seeking the services of a Perth Psychologist or Perth Counsellor please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

Loneliness

Leonard Cohen wrote a poem which includes....'Finally I called the people I didn't want to hear from...After the third ring I said I'll let it ring five more times then what will I do............(omitted material )....I decided to keep to the same street and go into the fourth drugstore and call them again'

For me, this is a pithy example of what bitter loneliness and desperation feels like.Most of us have been there at some time and I believe this is a huge,terribly painful and largely invisible,societal issue. This can occur for a wide variety of reasons including sickness,relationship breakup,depression,relocation,and financial hardship.Wanting to meet people and wanting to avoid them can characterise this, as well as desperately reaching out to those from whom we expect furthur rejection.

Although there may be a time for solitary healing,developing options for a safe support structure is really important.Organised groups,clubs,hobbies,or activities can be a platform on which to rebuild.Because they are already organised it requires relatively little effort just to attend.They are usually regular,which is important to structure time and allow friendships to grow, as well as provide leadership and supervision.They also allow a degree of space so one might not feel intruded upon when not ready to share deeply.

Constructive and safe groups (perhaps surprisingly) include Public Speaking Clubs like Rostrum or Toastmasters.You can go as an observer without obligation and without having to say anything until you are ready.Their locations and contact details can be found on the internet.Church groups can be supportive and social without necessarily being religious.Voluntary work may provide an opportunity to meet a variety of people in different settings.There is a website called Perth Meetups which contains a huge number of opportunities to join a very wide range of social and activity groups.Sporting clubs are a great way to meet people.Mens Sheds are useful for many people as are Book Clubs.The point is that being brave enough to do something is important.It is likely that your painful feelings wont change until AFTER your avoidance behavior has changed.Unlike the character described by Leonard Cohen perhaps, you can put in place structures so that you can call those you DO want to hear from.

If you are seeking the services of a Perth Psychologist or Perth Counsellor please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

                                                            

                                                             

Schools of Thought

'Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit'......'.called or not called God will be present.'... is the inscription in the stone portal above the front door of the house where used to live Carl Jung,one of the founders of modern psychotherapy,in Kusnacht,Zurich.It is attributed originally to the Delphic Oracle.This reality belief of Jung underlies his understanding of the nature of psychological symptoms in terms of Self alienation and the correct orientation of the personal ego sense of self. Jung was one of the favourite sons of Sigmund Freud,the other major figure of psychotherapy, in the early part of the Twentieth Century.However,the credo noted above marked a deviation from the thinking of Freud which marked the separation into silence of the relationship between these men.Jung was the son of a pastor which,perhaps,helped to orientate him towards a theory of a 'collective self'' in the personality of each person in addition to a purely 'personal' self.This is the basis for an elaborate system of a psychology which allows a language for a personal connective spiritual experience in contrast to a more formal group religious one.This 'archetypal', evolving to a purpose,dimension was anathema to Freud whose theories rested more on early development in a very personal specific deterministic fashion.Of course,schools of followers coalesced around each man.Those who follow Jung are called Analytical Psychotherapists whereas those who follow Freud are called Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists.Like most polarised positions in life this has,in the past,created conflict and claims for priority.More recent thinkers,such as Robert Johnson and others,have said we no longer live in a world of 'Either/Or' but instead in a world of 'Either and Or' .The challenge in most claims for 'right' and 'truth', including personal relationship conflict,is to find a respect for diversity of opinion and experience.Sometimes this means looking for perspectives which belong to different layers or levels.Which level in a lasagne is the 'right'one?This may require flexible and creative thinking and some ability to deal with prejudice.The latter is an important topic in its own right to be discussed another time.

If you are seeking the services of a Perth Psychologist or Perth Counsellor please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Happiness can seem boring

Sometimes people seek happiness by making choices which bring much 'drama' to their lifes with many peaks and troughs.Whereas adrenaline junkies in competitive sports and other adventure activities can be happily well suspended 'in the moment' ,others find their 'dramas' bring them misery.This is particularly so in the realm of personal relationships.Harville Hendrix in his groundbreaking book 'Getting the Love You Want' describes the natural instinct of people to unconsciously seek aspects of their parents in the partners they choose.Hendrix discusses how this is a natural,intuitive attempt to heal childhood wounds as well as to repeat the positive aspects of childhood relationships.Freud and other  psychodynamic therapists would describe this as 'transference'.

Unfortunately,sometimes the negative aspects predominate and people often wonder why they keep 'choosing' partners who seem to have the same frustrating,maybe abusive, characteristics.Often there is excitement around these relationships with their cycles of breakup and makeup.Hendrix describes how the natural unaware urge is to hope even toxic  relationships work and in so doing,apparently make the past better.Hendrix introduces a form of couples therapy called Imago Therapy which is designed to make these patterns more conscious and allow more flexibility between partners.However,when people cannot resolve their conflicts,even with counselling help,the damaging patterns continue with their hurtful consequences.

Sometimes people will say people they DO get on with, are boring and the relationship is boring.Perhaps redefining what seems boring  in a 'working' relationship helps  to escape highly 'exciting' but unacceptably damaging relationship cycles.Hendrix would say it is likely that we are often fascinated most by those who are least likely to want to meet some of our major needs.He would argue the key to success is whether partners can stretch to meet each others needs. It is helpful to be able and willing to do  the psychological work to better understand each others background to understand why each others particular needs exist.This can make each others needs more acceptable when,once,those needs once appeared quirky.Clearly,different people have different capacities to 'stretch'.Perhaps there needs to be some judicious finding of balance between excitement and workability.Healthy relationships allow healthy,predictable, routines which replace chaos with a more level structure.It may be important not to interpret these as boring.

If you are seeking the services of a Perth Psychologist or Perth Counsellor, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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